Have you ever found yourself at work, at home or in your community, trying to work through a problem or challenge, only to have someone swoop in, with their cape flapping behind them, and save the day?

Have you ever had a leader or manager like that? A parent? I bet we all have at one time or another. How did it make you feel? Empowered? Emboldened? Full of drive and energy to tackle the next big project? Probably not…

Or maybe, you are one of these caped crusaders? I know I am guilty of this more often than I care to admit. Do you have to be the hero, swooshing in to save the day each and every time, in every aspect of your life?

When I see this taking place, I shout in my head: “No Capes!” see the clip from “The Incredibles” movie, for an illustration of the disastrous effects of “cape wearing” from the people at Disney/Pixar.

I want to give you an interesting question to ask yourself if you (like me) sometimes practice this flawed approach: who are you NOT empowering while your cape is fluttering in the wind? Who is standing on the sidelines while you spike the ball in the end zone? Which of your employees just felt completely sapped of drive and energy as a result of your touchdown? Different way to view it, huh? If you are a leader who feels susceptible to this trap or knows one, a 360 degree assessment can help diagnose whether or not you have a blind spot in this area.

We like to tell ourselves stories.  We like to be the hero of those stories.  What we forget sometimes is that we sub-optimize the people around us with this behavior. We have to sometimes fold the cape up, send it to the dry cleaners, and let someone else get the kitten out of the tree, in order to fully engage and make self-accountable those around us.  Embarking on and investing in a deliberate strategy and plan for employee engagement is often the answer.

When we don’t, we risk burning out, we risk discouraging people..but mostly we risk failing to uncover what someone else has to offer and to multiply our organization’s effectiveness.

In his book, Predictable Success, Les McKeown, states that a culture of self- accountability is the single most powerful characteristic an organization can acquire to get and sustain a state of perpetual success and growth. When leaders shed their capes and let employees or teammates take ownership of their work, they create an environment where people are pulling together rather than one where they watch one person swoop in to push the boulder uphill by themselves.

What are some things you can do to make your organization or team more successful? Ask yourself: who am I leading that can take on more?  How can I equip them to take over some of what I am doing?  Or if that doesn’t seem like a fit, ask yourself how can I encourage them to take on something that they would be really good at, but might lack the confidence or permission to try?
Conduct an organizational and/or team assessment and see if you have any blind spots in these areas that might need to be addressed. Do it yourself with the myriad of online resources available or hire a consultant to come in, assess your group and provide a plan that retires the capes and empowers your people.
It is too easy to get trapped in our “incredible” story about ourselves and miss the “incredible” story someone else is waiting to tell. Often times, that someone, is likely right next to us, waiting for us to empower them to soar! Our organizations are waiting for us to save them by, putting on our coaching caps, shedding our capes and leading them to new levels of success!

Published by J Johnson

I am seeking to discover, find and share salt and light into the world. After growing up in financial poverty, but with a wealth of loving people lifting me up all along the way, I struggled for a good while to "do it all on my own." Until I finally found something indescribable in a mere "about me" section of a blog. Now I have the peace that discovery provides as well as the overwhelming urge to share everything I can with as many as I can. I am now trying to use those life experiences, my formal and informal education, and my over 25 years of human resources and leadership experience to have a broader conversation with the world about that something, that Light, and about Love and Leadership...with a dose of Laughter along the way. 4 Ls to Live by and to Soar by: Four for Soaring.

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